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Hispanic American Heritage Month 2015
Guardsmen, Civilians, Vets Celebrate Hispanic Heritage at Festival
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*Hispanics are the largest single ethnic group, in proportion to the number who served, to receive this prestigious award.
Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated every year from September 15 to October 15. For the 2015 observance, the National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers has chosen the theme "Hispanic Americans: Energizing Our Nation’s Diversity."
Each year, Americans observe Hispanic Heritage Month by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. The observance began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 31-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15.
Joseph Marion Hernández was the first Hispanic to serve in Congress and the first delegate from the territory of Florida. He was born in St. Augustine, Florida, on August 4, 1793, when it was still a Spanish colony. When the territory of Florida was established in 1822, Hernández transferred his allegiance to the United States and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served until March 3, 1823.
The Hispanic population of the United States was 54 million as of July 1, 2013, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest minority. Hispanics constituted 17 percent of the nation’s total population. Only Mexico has a larger Hispanic population -- roughly 120 million.
Hispanics are underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. Although Hispanics made up 16 percent of the U.S. population in 2010, only 8 percent of all certificates and degrees awarded in the STEM fields between 2009 and 2010 were earned by Hispanic students.
Susana Martinez was born in El Paso, Texas, in 1959. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 1986 then moved to New Mexico, where she became the district attorney in 1997. In 2010, she became the first female governor of New Mexico and the first Hispanic female governor in the United States.
The term "Hispanic or Latino" refers to a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin. Hispanic origin can be viewed as the heritage, nationality group, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States. People who identify their origin as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be any race.
David G. Farragut is perhaps the best-known Hispanic Civil War hero. He served in the Union Navy and later became the first admiral in the U.S. Navy. Congress created the rank and awarded it to him after his August 5, 1864, victory in the Battle of Mobile Bay.
The percentage of Hispanic students enrolled in STEM fields increased by 33 percent from 1996 to 2004. Although Hispanic students are equally as likely as non-Hispanic White students to major in STEM subjects, they are significantly less likely to earn a degree or certificate in a STEM field. Only 16 percent of Hispanic students who began college in 2004 as STEM majors completed a STEM degree by 2009.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1952. At the age of seven, she moved to the United States. When she was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1982, she became the first Hispanic woman in Florida's State Legislature.
There were 1.1 million Hispanics added to the United States’ population between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2013. This number is close to half of the 2.3 million people added to the nation’s population during this period. Between 2012 and 2013, there was a two-percent increase in the Hispanic population of the U.S.
The Minorcans, a Hispanic group from the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, colonized parts of Florida in the mid-to-late 1760s. A century later, many of their descendants served in the Confederate Army and Navy. Others served for the Union. One of the most notable was Stephen Vincent Benét. Born in St. Augustine, he graduated from West Point in 1849, and later taught the science of gunnery during the war. In 1874, he was appointed Brigadier General, Chief of U.S. Army Ordnance.
At the time of the 1860 U.S. Census, there were around 27,500 Mexican-Americans residing in the United States. When the Civil War started in 1861, Mexican-Americans were divided, as were other Americans. In the beginning of the war, about 2,550 Mexican-Americans joined Confederate forces, while around 1,000 joined the Union troops. Over the course of the war, approximately 9,900 Mexican-Americans fought for either the Confederate or Union military.
In 1961, Rita Moreno became the first Hispanic actress to win an Academy Award, also known as an Oscar. She won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in West Side Story. She is one of a small group of celebrities who have won all four of the most coveted awards in the entertainment business. Moreno won two Emmys, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. Moreno was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1955.
Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 to October 15 each year. September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day, or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 31-day period.
In 2012, there were 38.3 million U.S. residents 5 and older who spoke Spanish at home. This is a 121 percent increase since 1990, when it was 17.3 million. Those who spoke Spanish at home constituted 13.0 percent of U.S. residents 5 and older. More than half (58 percent) of these Spanish speakers spoke English "very well." Of all Hispanics 5 and older, 73.9 percent spoke Spanish at home.
Luis Alvarez was born in San Francisco, California, in 1911. In 1968, he became the first Hispanic American to win the Nobel Prize in Physics. He won the prize "for his decisive contributions to elementary particle physics, in particular the discovery of a large number of resonance states, made possible through his technique of using hydrogen bubble chamber and data analysis."
The United States Air Force was officially founded on September 18, 1947, when President Truman signed the National Security Act. The Department of the Air Force was derived from a division of the Army, which purchased its first aircraft in 1909. World War II demonstrated the importance of airpower, and the National Security Act made the Air Force an independent service, equal to the Army and Navy.
In 2013, there were 22 states in which Hispanics were the largest minority group. These states were Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
As early as 1526, Spanish settlers attempted to colonize the coastal areas of what is now South Carolina. Although this effort failed, Spain established St. Augustine, Florida, the first permanent European settlement in the present-day United States, in 1565. By the mid-1800s, most of the Spanish lands in North America were occupied as states and territories of the United States. However, a Hispanic population remained, most notably in the Southeast and the Southwest.
"In 2014, President Barack Obama corrects a historical act of discrimination when he awards the Medal of Honor to 24 Hispanic, Jewish, and African-American veterans who were passed over because of their racial or ethnic backgrounds. It is one of the largest Medal of Honor ceremonies in history.
The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics was first established by President George H.W. Bush on September 24, 1990. During the 1990s, the Hispanic high school dropout rate was 32 percent, compared to the national rate of 12 percent. Since the Initiative has been in effect, there have been significant improvements in dropout rates of Hispanic students. This dropout rate was cut in half from 28 percent in 2000 to 14 percent in 2011.
In 1979, Edward Hidalgo became the first Hispanic Secretary of the Navy after being nominated by President Jimmy Carter and confirmed by the Senate. Hidalgo was born in Mexico City, Mexico, in 1912 and moved to the United States as a child. He started his military career as a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1942. Hidalgo was also a lawyer who graduated from Columbia Law School in 1936.
The Hispanic population of the United States is projected to grow to 128.8 million in 2060. According to this projection, the Hispanic population will constitute 31 percent of the nation’s population by that date. In 2013, there were 54 million U.S. Hispanics, accounting for 17 percent of the population.
Severo Ochoa was born in Luarca, Spain, in 1905. He went to medical school at the University of Madrid and graduated in 1929. He moved to the United States in 1941 and became an American citizen in 1956. Ochoa became the first Hispanic American to win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1959 for discovering "the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid."
In 2013, the Hispanic population of California was 14.7 million, the largest of any state in the U.S. At 4.8 million, Los Angeles County had the largest Hispanic population of any county. This was substantial, considering there were only eight states with Hispanic populations over one million at the time: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Texas.
In 2011, Sylvia Mendez was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a ceremony at the White House. As a child, Mendez and other Hispanic children were barred from attending all-White public schools in California's segregated public school system.
Franklin Chang-Diaz was born in Costa Rica in 1950. In 1967, he moved to the United States where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Connecticut in 1973 and a doctorate in applied plasma physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977. He was selected for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s astronaut program in 1980, and he became the first Hispanic in space when he flew aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1986.
In 2012, the percentage of the United States Hispanic population who were of Mexican background was 64 percent. Another 9.4 percent were of Puerto Rican background, 3.8 percent were Salvadoran, 3.7 percent were Cuban, 3.1 percent were Dominican, and 2.3 percent were Guatemalan. The remainder was of some other Central American, South American, or other Hispanic/Latino origin.
The 25th anniversary of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics is in September 2015. To celebrate this, the U.S. secretary of education and the Initiative launched the "25th Anniversary Year of Action: Fulfilling America’s Future" from October 2014 through September 2015. This is a time to highlight Hispanics’ educational progress and achievements, increase their educational outcomes and opportunities, identify challenges, and address current educational needs.
Miami native Navy Lt. Margaret Villagran Cole graduated magna cum laude from Concord University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. While there...
Born in Laredo, Texas in 1980, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Erika Gehlen is the first of two children born to Sergio and Guadalupe De La Parra of Mexico City. Gehlen attended Princeton...
Ana Maria Gulian graduated from State University of New York Maritime College in May 1987 with a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, Merchant Marine License and an officer’s commission in the...
Carmela Keeney is a San Pedro, Calif., native who attributes her belief in the value of outreach activities to her parents, both of whom were immigrants, and later, naturalized U.S. citizens. Neither graduated...
Marine Lt. Gen. Pedro A. del Valle led the First Marine Division through the Okinawa operation in the closing months of World War II. For his outstanding leadership...
Army Master Sgt. Jerry Dale Arteaga graduated from Edinburg High School in May 1998 and enlisted in the Army June 3, 1998. He completed One Station Unit Training...
Army Maj. Adam Salazar was born to a first generation Mexican American in Biddeford, Maine. In 2004, he graduated from Lipscomb University with a Bachelor...
Michelle Breitbach is a procurement analyst in the Policy, Review and Compliance Branch for the Army Contracting Command – Rock Island, a major contracting center of the command...
Plans and Programs Superintendent Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Anthony Sandoval is from Raton, New Mexico. In 1983, after graduating from Raton High School...
Air Force Lt. Col. Susana Corona Smith has had an over 22-year dual-hatted career in civil service and the United States Air Force. She was commissioned...
Miami native Navy Lt. Margaret Villagran Cole graduated magna cum laude from Concord University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. While there she played on the Women's Soccer Team. In law school, Cole commissioned an Ensign in the Navy JAG Corps Student Program and was sworn in by Navy Rear Adm. Donald Joseph Guter in Pittsburgh, Pa., three months before receiving her Juris Doctor from Duquesne University School of Law in June 2009.
After completing Naval Justice School in April 2010, Cole reported to Naval Legal Service Office Northwest in Bangor, Wash., and first served as a legal assistance attorney. While there, Cole served as division officer of BROFF Bangor, ran the VITA Regional Tax Office for all of Navy Region Northwest, and defended sailors at administrative separation boards. A year later, Cole transferred to the Defense Department, where she served as lead defense counsel in over 20 courts-martial and represented more than 50 defense clients in courts-martial and administrative board hearings.
In August 2012, Lt. Cole deployed to Afghanistan. During her eight-month tour, Cole served as the command judge advocate to Marine Brig. Gen. John W. Bullard, deputy commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan North, in Mazar-e-Sharif, where she worked as an independent staff judge advocate advising in the fields of operational law, fiscal law, administrative law, ethics and foreign claims.
Cole reported to Region Legal Service Office Naval District Washington in April 2013, where she currently serves as a trial counsel.
Cole is authorized to wear the Joint Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps' Achievement Medal with a Gold Star in lieu of second award, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Non-Article 5 NATO Medal, the Pistol Marksmanship Medal, and the Rifle Marksmanship Medal (sharpshooter).
Born in Laredo, Texas in 1980, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Erika Gehlen is the first of two children born to Sergio and Guadalupe De La Parra of Mexico City.
Gehlen attended Princeton University in New Jersey where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Art and Archaeology in June 2002 and a certificate in Latin American Studies. Upon graduation, she was selected as a 2002-2003 Princeton Public Interest Fellow.
Gehlen then attended Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, California beginning in August 2003, and graduated with a Juris Doctor in December 2005. She completed Whittier's International and Comparative Law Certificate Program, having participated in the Whittier Law School Summer in China Program at Sun-Yat Sen University in Zhuhai, China in 2004, and the Whittier Law School Summer in Israel Program at Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv, Israel in 2005. Gehlen worked as a clerk at the Orange County District Attorney's Office and at a law firm specializing in criminal defense, and mediating small claims cases. She was also a member of Whittier's Moot Court and Trial Advocacy Honors Boards. Gehlen was awarded a Dean's Merit Scholarship, the Foundation of the State Bar of California Scholarship, and was a Council on Legal Opportunity Thurgood Marshall Associate.
Gehlen was accepted into the JAGC Student Program in December 2004, commissioned in June 2005, completed Officer Indoctrination School in March 2006, and completed Naval Justice School in August 2006. She was stationed at the Region Legal Service Office Southeast Detachment Mayport, Fla., from August 2006 to August 2008, where she served as trial counsel. Gehlen volunteered as an assistant staff judge advocate for the Joint Task Force Guantanamo, from February 2008 to August 2008. She was the deputy staff judge advocate of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command Fourth Fleet in Mayport, Fla., from August 2008 to August 2010. She was the deputy staff judge advocate of Logistics Group Western Pacific in Singapore from August 2010 to August 2013. In addition to providing legal advice on international law, foreign criminal jurisdiction matters, military justice and standards of conduct, Gehlen planned and executed the Military Law and Operations Symposium component of the annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training, or CARAT, series of bilateral exercises throughout Southeast Asia. She was the staff judge advocate of Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group TWO in Virginia Beach, Va., from August 2013 to April 2015, where she planned and deployed for various exercises including BALTOPS and Bold Alligator, both major multilateral naval and amphibious exercises where she was the lead legal advisor during this sea tour. She is currently the Navy JAGC accessions detailer, PERS-4416E.
Gehlen is entitled to wear the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy Marine Commendation Medal - three awards, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Navy/Marine Achievement Medal – two awards, the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Gehlen was selected as the 2015 National Organization for Mexican American Rights Meritorious Service Award recipient and the 2015 Latina Style Distinguished Military Service Award recipient. Gehlen resides in Millington, Tenn., with her husband, Greg Gehlen, and son, Lucas Gehlen.
Ana Maria Gulian graduated from State University of New York Maritime College in May 1987 with a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering, Merchant Marine License and an officer's commission in the Unites States Naval Reserves. In July 1987, she began work in the Submarine Antenna Engineering Department of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, Naval Ship Systems Engineering Station,Philadelphia. Although employed at the same command since she started her federal career, Gulian has served many roles: in-service engineer and technical specialist for Submarine Sail Systems and Programs; technical specialist in the Communications and Hull, Mechanical and Electrical Networking Section; section head for HM&E Networks; branch head for Energy Conversion Research and Development; division head for Steam and Auxiliary Systems; and currently department head for Propulsion, Power and Auxiliary Systems. In 1992, Gulian earned a Master's degree in Engineering Management from Drexel University. She is DAWIA Level III certified in Systems, Planning, Research, Development and Engineering and is also a LEAN Six Sigma Greenbelt. Since 2011, Gulian has been senior sponsor for the NAVSSES Society of Women Employee Resource Group.
As a department head, Gulian is responsible for leading close to 600 engineers and technicians within three divisions in providing technical expertise, life cycle management and facilities for naval main propulsion and auxiliary machinery for all classes of aircraft carriers, surface ships, and submarines. She performs organizational and administrative management of the department including tactical and strategic planning, developing resources and capabilities, formulation of budgets and management of funding. She maintains effective contacts with internal and external customers and sponsors at all management and technical levels.
As a Hispanic woman who grew up in New York City, she is committed to improving diversity within NAVSSES. Gulian was selected to lead the recruitment program for the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division, Philadelphia site. Noting that the Warfare Centers were increasing in size for the first time in more than a decade, she knew the time was right to change the face of the organization. After selection as the first diverse woman division head in Philadelphia history in February 2010, Gulian chose not to give up her role leading the hiring program, but instead asked to remain in the job because she knew it was critical to continue her work developing a workforce that better represents the country's engineering workforce. Through her significant and consistent contributions, Gulian continues to promote understanding of cultural differences for all people at all levels in the workplace.
Carmela Keeney is a San Pedro, Calif., native who attributes her belief in the value of outreach activities to her parents, both of whom were immigrants, and later, naturalized U.S. citizens. Neither graduated high school. Keeney earned a master's degree in electrical and computer engineering in 1985 and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1979 from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Keeney began her federal career in 1979 as a principal investigator in marine technology and undersea systems. Fulfilling her early desire to pursue a career in engineering at a time when few women entered the field, she has spent more than three decades shaping technological superiority for the DoD in the areas of intelligence and surveillance, ultimately becoming the only female laboratory director among all DoD labs. Keeney has personally initiated numerous successful outreach activities through close relationships with Southern California universities, community colleges, and K-12 schools, particularly targeting schools with a high concentration of minorities.
Keeney has received numerous awards including the Meritorious Presidential Rank Award, the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award, the Society of Women Engineers' Bronze Award, the first recipient of the University of California's (San Diego) Gordon Engineering Leadership Award in 2009 - recognizing her technology management and dedication to the next generation of technology leaders, the 2012 HENAAC Executive Excellence Award and the 2014 Federal Laboratory Consortium Laboratory Director of the Year award. Keeney is a member of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, the Society of Women Engineers and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Keeney is the executive director and senior civilian leader of a Navy warfare center of more than 4,000 scientists, engineers, technicians, logisticians, and support personnel, and more than 6,000 industry partners. She leads an organization chartered to enable information dominance for naval, joint, national and coalition war-fighters through research, development, delivery and support of integrated capabilities. She has distinguished herself as a visionary leader who has championed breakthrough scientific discoveries and advanced information technologies, while also focusing continuously on community and educational outreach efforts. Keeney entered the Senior Executive Service in 2000.
"In the world of cyber space and information dominance, Carmela Keeney is a true national asset," said Mary Lacey, former deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation, who considers Keeney one of the Navy's earliest generation of female engineers.
SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific annually sponsors a large group of Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation fellows, initially hiring five scholars - with more than a dozen in the pipeline. The SMART program was initially for four-year universities, but Keeney fought to broaden the eligibility to deserving students at community colleges. SSC Pacific now offers scholarships to students at San Diego's Southwestern College, serving a predominately Hispanic community. Keeney also initiated a successful internship program in 2008 at St. Mary's Academy in the Los Angeles area for girls in grades 9-12. Since its inception, eight to ten girls each year earn a month-long summer internship with scientists and engineers at SSC Pacific's laboratories. Through Keeney's support for the president's call to action to ensure a future highly skilled educated workforce, SSC Pacific's Educational Outreach program has coached robotics and cybersecurity teams, visited classrooms, provided workshops, presentations and lectures, and participated in more than 250 outreach events which provided more than 7,500 hours and 5,500 volunteer hours of outreach support to the greater San Diego community.
Keeney's continued technical and personal leadership has solidified her role as an architect of the nation's information dominance technology, and a guardian of future educational leadership. In summary, Carmela Keeney is a Navy-wide technical and diversity champion.
Marine Lt. Gen. Pedro A. del Valle led the First Marine Division through the Okinawa operation in the closing months of World War II. For his outstanding leadership as commanding general of the First Marine Division during the attack and occupation of Okinawa from April 1 – July 21, 1945, Del Valle was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.
Source: U.S. Marine Corps
Army Master Sgt. Jerry Dale Arteaga graduated from Edinburg High School in May 1998 and enlisted in the Army June 3, 1998. He completed One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Ga., and was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, where he served in A Company 2-35 Infantry as an infantryman and rifle fire team leader until 2001. In 2001, Arteaga attended the Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course and was selected to enter the Special Forces Qualification Course as a Special Forces communications sergeant. From 2002-2015, he served in 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group Airborne as a senior communications sergeant, Special Forces intelligence sergeant, Special Forces team sergeant, Battalion Operations NCOIC and as the Headquarters Support Company first sergeant. He is currently assigned to the Special Warfare Education Group as a full time graduate student at the National Defense University working towards a Master of Arts in strategic security studies. While assigned to rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group Airborne, Arteaga conducted four combat deployments to Afghanistan and two to Iraq. He also deployed multiple times on foreign internal defense missions to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility, increasing partner nations' military capabilities. Arteaga has deployed in support of the Global War on Terrorism six times to Colombia, twice to Chile, and once respectively to Bolivia, Honduras, Guyana, Jamaica and Japan.
Arteaga's awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, Joint Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Metal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Special Forces Tab, Ranger Tab, Colombian LANCERO Badge, Master Parachutist Wings, HALO Wings, Air Assault wings, Combat Infantryman's Badge, Dutch HALO Wings, Colombian Airborne Wings and various campaign and service awards. Arteaga is also the recipient of the 2012 Saint Philip Neri award for his contributions to the Special Operations Community.
Arteaga's military schools include: the Light Infantry Course, Air Assault, Primary Leadership Course, Airborne, Basic Non-Commissioned Officers Course, Special Forces Qualification Course, Survive Evade Resist and Escape Course, Ranger, Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat Course, Advanced Special Operations Techniques Course, Advanced Non-Commissioned Officers Course, Military Freefall Basic Course, Static Line Jump Master, Advanced Survive Evade Resist and Escape Course, Special Forces Intelligence Course and Special Forces Advanced Reconnaissance, Target Analysis and Exploitation Techniques Course.
Arteaga's non- military training courses include the Gryphon Group Combat Driving Course, Mid-South Shooting School, Frank Garcia International Shooting School, NEK Attack the Network Course, Merlin Technical Surveillance Course, NEK JEDBURG Course and the Colombian LANCERO Course. He is also a fixed wing private pilot with more than two hundred flight hours.
Arteaga graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in strategic security studies and defense analysis from Norwich University. He was selected to attend the National Defense University and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Strategic Security Studies.
Army Maj. Adam Salazar was born to a first generation Mexican American in Biddeford, Maine. In 2004, he graduated from Lipscomb University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science. Following in his father's and brother's footsteps, he made the decision to serve his country in the military. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant Field Artillery Officer through the Army's Reserve Officers' Training Corps program in May of 2004. His first assignment was 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division in Fort Polk, La. There he served as a troop fire support officer with 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment and deployed with his troop to Iraq in early 2007. Upon his redeployment, Salazar was assigned as a platoon leader with 5th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment. He deployed again to Iraq with his Battery in late 2007 where his platoon was responsible for the safety and security of thousands of residents in south eastern Baghdad. In 2009, Salazar attended and graduated from the Field Artillery Captain's Career Course in Fort Sill, Okla., and was moved to Fort Carson, Colo., where he was assigned to 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division. There he served as a squadron fire support officer with 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, Charlie Battery Commander, and then rear detachment commander for 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment.
Salazar was accepted into the Army Acquisition Corps in 2012. He attended the Army Acquisition Foundation Course and the Army Basic Contracting Course in Huntsville, Ala., where he graduated with honors in the top 20 percent of his class. After graduation, he was assigned to the 620th Contracting Team at Army Contracting Command - Rock Island. During his time at ACC-RI, Salazar worked in support of the Installation, Sustainment, and Reachback divisions. In 2014, Major Salazar attended the Command and General Staff College in Redstone Arsenal, Ala., where he graduated with honors in the top 20 percent of his class. In the fall of 2014, his team was selected to be a part of Army Contracting Command's first contingency contracting administration mission. In service to that mission, Salazar deployed with his team to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, where he served as an administrative contracting officer for the 926th Contracting Battalion. While assigned in Kuwait, his team was responsible for the successful administration of approximately $2.5 million worth of vital service contracts.
Salazar's military decorations and awards include the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal with four oak leaf clusters, National Defense Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal with two bronze service stars, Global War on Terror Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal and the Combat Action Badge. He and his wife, Krystin, have three children, Aiden, Molly and William.
Michelle Breitbach is a procurement analyst in the Policy, Review and Compliance Branch for the Army Contracting Command – Rock Island, a major contracting center of the command. Breitbach has been an Army civilian working in contracting for nearly 13 years. In that time she continued her education earning a master’s degree in business administration from St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa, and a Certified Federal Contracts Manager designation from the National Contract Management Association. Breitbach is responsible for a wide range of projects within the Policy, Review and Compliance Branch at ACC-RI including writing policy guidance for contracting personnel and managing a large number of highly evolving policy topics such as limiting competition; information technology; computer hardware, enterprise software and solutions; and general services administration. In addition to her assigned duties, Breitbach has been instrumental in establishing the ACC-RI on-boarding process for all contracting new hires. She volunteered to help workload the new hires as they came on board and that simple gesture grew into an enormously successful process due largely in part to her dedication and commitment to ACC-RI and contracting new hires.
Breitbach also serves as the boot camp facilitator in addition to full time policy duties. She is the initial contact for new hires and works closely with them for the first several months of their careers before they are placed in a buying division. She answers questions, provides overviews on various topics, helps new hires acclimate, assigns and reviews special projects, and schedules and facilitates the boot camp, a five to six week introductory contracting course. In the last three years, Breitbach has welcomed and trained 102 students in seven different boot camp classes. She has scheduled nearly 350 outside speakers, taught nearly 100 modules and continually improves the program by adding additional speakers, new training topics, more hands-on systems training and creating helpful resources. This past year, Breitbach helped lead a tiger team to seek additional recommendations to improve the boot camp program. She also volunteers twice per month to provide specialized contracting training to the military members of the ACC-RI contracting community.
Breitbach has been active in the Quad Cities chapter of National Contracting Management Association, a non-profit contracting association dedicated to improving the knowledge and training of contracting personnel worldwide. She has served as president and vice president multiple times and currently serves as the treasurer for the local chapter. She was instrumental in providing the CFCM offering to the workforce at ACC-RI. She solicited management’s support of the program, reserved space for study groups, led study groups, and was one of 20 graduates of the program.
Breitbach is proud of her Hispanic heritage stemming from both Mexico - Aguascalientes and Jalisco, and Barcelona, Spain. She has traveled to Mexico multiple times where she competed and won a League of United Latin American Citizens scholarship that helped cover her undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois, Champaign – Urbana, Ill.
Plans and Programs Superintendent Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Anthony Sandoval is from Raton, New Mexico. In 1983, after graduating from Raton High School, he enlisted in the United States Air Force as a B-52 crew chief.
During his 32-year career, Sandoval has held various leadership positions within the 250th Intelligence Squadron, the 150th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, the 374th Tactical Airlift Wing and the 96th Bomb Wing. Sandoval served over nine years active duty Air Force as a crew chief and aero repair technician on B-52s, KC135s, B-1Bs, C-130s, C-141s and C-5s.
After separating from active duty, Sandoval enlisted in the U.S. Air National Guard as drill status guardsman. Sandoval graduated from Eastern New Mexico University and was hired as a federal technician in 1996. During the next 14 years, he supported the 150th Fighter Wing in F-16 maintenance, and held numerous qualifications and stations in the F-16 maintenance program.
Sandoval has deployed in support of both humanitarian and combat operations during his career. He supported Operation Decisive Edge 1996, Northern Watch 1999, Noble Eagle 2002, Iraqi Freedom 2004 and 2007, and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. During the 2007 Iraqi Freedom deployment, Sandoval was the F-16 Flight Chief directly responsible for ensuring 12x aircraft were combat mission ready prior to flight, which led to a 100% mission effective rate.
In 2010, Sandoval cross trained to the geospatial intelligence career field and played a significant role in standing up a dynamic 107-person intelligence targeting squadron from the ground up. Sandoval served as the first operations superintendent and orchestrated the initial and mission qualification training of 62 intelligence analysts. His leadership was instrumental in establishing the first Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Terminal Area Modeling capability in the Air National Guard. Furthermore, his efforts increased the Air Force Targeting Center's production capacity by over 30 percent. With his guidance and constant mentorship, the squadron was able to produce 700 precision targeting products in 2013 and over 1,400 in 2014.
In his current position, Sandoval serves as the Plans and Programs Chief for the 250th Intelligence squadron. He is accountable for all resource planning and execution, budget, deployment, and the standardization and evaluation program.
Air Force Lt. Col. Susana Corona Smith has had an over 22-year dual-hatted career in civil service and the United States Air Force. She was commissioned out of the New Mexico State University ROTC program and spent 10 years on active duty. In 2006, she transitioned to full-time civil service and the military reserve program.
Smith's first operational tour was with the 8th Fighter Squadron, Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., providing mission planning and intelligence operations support to deployed F-117A missions in Kuwait and Italy. She also served as the chief of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance 601st Air Operations Center supporting relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. Smith has experience at the national level, serving at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center and Defense Intelligence Agency where she led collection management operations, OSINT, and all-source production. She has over 10 years of acquisition intelligence experience supporting test, research and development, and numerous intelligence-sensitive programs.
Smith is currently assigned as a full-time civilian to the Air Force Nuclear Center. She serves as the Intelligence Operations and Acquisition branch chief, responsible for intelligence acquisition support to all Air Force nuclear weapons intelligence-sensitive programs. She is currently responsible for threat support to the future Minute Man Intercontinental Ballistic Missile system and the future nuclear air-launched cruise missile.
Smith is also the IMA to the senior intelligence officer, Chemical and Nuclear Sciences Division, Directorate for Science & Technology, Defense Intelligence Agency. Smith plans worldwide chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive technical collection and characterization operations focused on high priority state and non-state actor proliferation activities. She was recently selected to be the 250th intelligence squadron commander, New Mexico Air National Guard. She will be leading a 107-person intelligence targeting squadron providing Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Terminal Area Modeling capability and precision targeting products in the Air National Guard.
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